Developer: 5pb, Team GrisGris
Platform: PS Vita
The third and final installment of the cult classic horror game series, CORPSE PARTY: BLOOD DRIVE offers up a genuinely scary and remarkably deep experience for those brave enough to endure it.
A popular series in Japan that has spawned manga titles, an anime series, and most recently a live action film, it revolves around a bunch of a bunch of schoolchildren who have to deal with a haunted school. In the first game, a bunch of kids accidentally perform a ritual in their high school late one night, an event that sucks them into a nightmare world they’re still coping with. See, their school was built over the grounds of a former elementary school called the Heavenly Host Elementary School, which was torn down after a spate of mysterious murders and disappearances. Their ritual sends them back into the ghostly remains of Heavenly Host, and the clutches of all its inhabitants.
As we start BLOOD DRIVE, the survivors of the ordeal have returned to find out that their friends that didn’t make it back alive from Heavenly Host aren’t just dead, they’re completely erased from history. No one from high school remembers them. As such, the survivors have to not only keep the events a secret but also deal with the fact that their friends are in limbo right now, only existing as memories in their friends’ heads.
So when a really, really risky opportunity to head back to the school emerges, do you think our heroes shy from the possibility of saving them, even though it’s obviously a thing only morons in a horror movie would do? Of course not. One by one they head back to Heavenly Host to find that things are inexplicably even worse than when they escaped from it.
This is a direct sequel to the second game, BOOKS OF SHADOWS, and as such it really helps to have played through the first two installments. There are numerous characters and events referenced here that will be confusing to you if you haven’t, and while they provide a little encylopedia to catch up with every character and location, it’s better if you have just played through it yourself. Fortunately both PSP titles are available digitally in the PSN store for the PS Vita, allowing you to collect the whole trilogy on one system.
While they all follow the story of the same group of children, each game is a different genre. The first was an old-school RPG was created with RPG Maker, somehow being utterly pants-wettingly scary while featuring 8-bit graphics. BOOK OF SHADOWS changed things up by making it a first-person adventure game, as well as expanding the visual novel portions from the first. That’s something that you have to expect from the entire series, in fact- it’s much more of a visual novel than anything else, so expect to do a lot of reading. That’s nothing that will be an issue, though, when the story is so scary and you get so involved in what’s going on to these poor kids.
But in BLOOD DRIVE you’ll get to explore a 3D-rendered Heavenly Host for the first time ever, and it’s also more… diseased than before. As if its being dark, and ruined, and filled with murderous ghosts weren’t enough, there’re now blood and pus-filled sacs pulsating on the walls and floor everywhere. This is not a happy place to be, although the lighting effects are surprisingly great… as long as your flashlight doesn’t run out of batteries. This time, the very school, itself, is a danger to you, with the floors crumbling and danger lurking in every room.
As with the past titles, the sound design is absolutely wonderful and headphones are a requirement thanks to the binaural audio. The voices seem to come from all around your room when you have them on- from shrieks that come from far off to creepy whispers that sound like someone’s right next to one of your ears. As with any horror game, playing this at night is key, and you won’t be doing much sleeping when you do.
It’s also quite a lengthy game. As with the past titles it’s broken up into chapters, each of which contain their own little story arc, and multiple endings encourage you to replay everything to try and see how much better (or worse) it can get. If it weren’t for interminable loading screens, that even pop up when trying to get to the options menu, this would be a seamless experience.
Even so, exploring the new 3D world in-between cutscenes is a delight, and fans of the series will be pleased to find that this ties it up the story very nicely. You may not think that it was a smart idea for the kids of CORPSE PARTY: BLOOD DRIVE to go back to this house of horrors, but you’ll be glad they did.